Welcome back to the fifth post in the From Farm to Cup blog series! This week we are looking into how coffee is exported and imported. Exporting and importing is a tricky part of the process that coffee has to endure to become the drinkable beverage we all love and enjoy. During this stage, the coffee is out of the hands of the most interested parties; the buyers and all the farmers who just labored over the coffee. This stage puts the coffee in limbo because it can take a long time for the coffee to arrive once shipped.♦1

After the coffee has been graded, the beans are put into giant 60 kg jute bags and placed in shipping containers. The containers can hold hundreds of bags of coffee and are able to transport the coffee from its country of origin via ship. A potential problem with putting coffee in shipping containers however, is that coffee is graded hygroscopic (absorbs and stores nearby water from the surrounding environment). The shipping containers are on boats which tends to be a source of lots of water. Because of this, transporting beans on ships is dangerous because if a coffee beans moisture level reaches 12.5% then it is susceptible to fungi growing inside of it. If a whole container is exposed to even just a small amount of water, it may ruin the entire shipment. 

Besides environmental hazards, shipping coffee can be an international hassle as well. Traveling through international waters and docks can cause serious frustrations and delays for roasters waiting for the beans to arrive at their roastery. Shipping coffee may always be a risk, yet it is an important and necessary step in the farm to cup experience.♦2

Next week will be week 6 of our From Farm to Cup blog series and we will be talking about the pricing and trading of coffee around the world!

◊ Written by Andrew Watson, Manager at Ntaba Mellwood, v60 lover, and Interstellar‘s #1 fan

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♦1 – Hoffman, James. “The World Atlas of Coffee.” Octopus Books, 10.4.2018.
♦2https://drwakefield.com/news-and-views/the-dangers-of-shipping-coffee/#:~:text=Wet%2C%20wet%2C%20wet,coffee%20beans%20unfit%20for%20consumption | Opened 09/20/2020

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